Airbus Scrambles For Year-End Orders

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Airbus has padded its order book for 2018 with last-minute signings for 120 of its newest airliner. The company announced Thursday it had formal agreements with Jet Blue and Moxy, a new discount carrier, for 60 A220-300s each. The A220 is the rebranded Bombardier CSeries, which Airbus acquired last July from the Canadian company. The model 300 is the largest of the A220s with up to 160 seats, about the same as the smallest Boeing 737 and the A319, but both JetBlue and Moxy are targeting high-frequency service between major hubs or flying full airplanes on less productive routes with the clean-sheet 220s, which are among the most efficient airliners currently available. The planes will be built at a new assembly line at Airbus's Mobile, Alabama, complex.  What may be more important to Airbus is the stabilizing influence the big order might have on its share prices.

Shareholders typically put a lot of weight on year-end tallies for aircraft manufacturers and Airbus’s last-minute flurry of order announcements may help blunt a price slide. Airbus trailed Boeing in both orders and deliveries for most of 2018. Airbus may miss its target of 800 deliveries this year by a handful and it’s significant because manufacturers get paid on delivery and that directly reflects the financial position of the company. The order book also caused concern. By the end of November, Boeing was far ahead of Airbus in orders but the A220 order and a 100-plane commitment from Irish lessor Avalon for its larger models narrowed the gap substantially, putting Airbus at about 600 and Boeing at about 690 according to Reuters.

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